Our neighbor, Adam, who may have undiagnosed ADHD, is a wine enthusiast. His practical enjoyment of this hobby would greatly increase, I believe, if he obtained ADHD coaching that included mindfulness training.

Relaxed - No Anxiety Like many people with ADHD, Adam, a pseudonym for my real neighbor, is very intelligent, and when his mind alights on a topic that interests him, he will exhaustively explore it. His ability to hyper focus on things that fascinate him is common for people with ADHD, and potentially a great asset, but only if it isn't sabotaged by ADHD's less positive attributes. In at least in one instance, that sabotaging happened to George in his attempt to share his knowledge and enjoyment of wine.

A few other neighbors and I planned with Adam a French gourmet dinner, for which he was to choose the perfect wine. He researched thoroughly, made the ideal choice, and found one small wine store in the area that carried it. The store was located about 45 minutes away, so picking it up required a significant time investment from Adam.

When Adam arrived at the wine store, about four people were ahead of him in line. The clerk was taking quite a bit of time with the customer he was currently helping. Adam started to feel horribly restless, like a caffeinated, caged racehorse. He checked his phone, but he didn't have any messages. He looked around, but didn't see anything interesting. After about five minutes, the clerk was still helping the first customer, and Adam couldn't stand it anymore. He left without the wine.

Mindfulness coaching for ADHD would have enabled Adam to respond differently to the situation. First, it would have provided him techniques for waiting his turn in line without becoming hopelessly bored and restless. Although people with ADHD often have difficulty setting short and long-term goals for the future, they are always careening towards it. Usually, the present is something to be endured until they can race ahead to something more compelling or exciting. Mindfulness coaching trains those with ADHD to be present in the present, to become aware of the anxiety that makes the present feel intolerable, and find a place in their own bodies and minds to focus on rather than depending on external stimuli.

Second, mindfulness coaching would have helped Adam with the impulsiveness that caused him to leave the store. Instead of reacting to an urge born of anger, boredom, anxiety, or some other emotion of which Adam was unaware he was experiencing, mindfulness would have taught him to first observe his emotional experience non-judgmentally, and then to decide how he wished to respond to it. Thus, Adam wouldn't have been managed by his impulses, but rather his impulses would have been managed by him.

The dinner proceeded without the perfect wine, and the evening was still enjoyable.  Adam was already talking about the great wine he would bring next time. I couldn't help hoping that he would get a little mindfulness coaching before then.

Stressed WomanRecently, I attended a party where one guest, I'll call her Susan, exhibited some ADHD behavior. It was raining as Susan was leaving the party, and this inspired the hostess to share with her a story about how her basement flooded the year before. She included details of the dirty, expensive process of getting rid of the water, tearing out the wet, moldy drywall, and putting in new walls. When the hostess finished, Susan responded inappropriately with "That's totally awesome! That's so great! You guys are the best!" When Susan left, another guest said to the hostess, "I don't think she heard a word of your story," and the hostess rolled her eyes and nodded in agreement.

I think Susan meant to listen to the hostess, but had unwittingly zoned out. I think she wanted to care and show enthusiasm about the story, so she provided what she believed was a response reflecting that. But actually, her response conveyed just the opposite; it conveyed that she found the hostess and her story so boring and unimportant that hadn't even bothered to listen.

The sad part is, Susan probably did this regularly, to everyone, imperiling her relationships, without any awareness that it was a problem.

I am a mental health counselor who chooses to employ coaching to help my clients who are struggling with ADHD. I believe that both therapy and coaching are great treatment options for most disorders, but for ADHD, I prefer coaching.

One reason for my preference is that recovery is not the goal for people like Susan, strategizing is, and coaching is all about strategizing. Therapy works well for helping clients recover from depression, substance use problems, crippling anxiety, etc., but for those with ADHD, developing strategies for minimizing ADHD's disadvantages and maximizing its advantages is the best approach. As a coach, I wouldn't try and help Susan recover from her inattentiveness, I would help her recognize that her problems with focus extend beyond the work arena, and help her employ techniques for addressing them.

Another reason why I prefer coaching for clients with ADHD is that unlike anxiety, depression and other disorders, ADHD doesn't make people feel unlike themselves. They don't suddenly notice a change in their emotion, thought, behavior, or physicality. So, unlike other types of sufferers, people with ADHD are usually unaware of the myriad ways that their symptoms are impacting their lives, because it has always been that way. Susan had no idea that she was insulting people by not listening – she didn't even realize she wasn't listening. An ADHD coach would help her develop awareness of how her inattentiveness was affecting her relationships, and look for the impact of disorganization, impulsiveness, poor money management, and tardiness as well.  

Susan has so many strengths; she is lively, fun, enthusiastic, creative, and she can hyper-focus in ways that allow her to master some very difficult things, such as playing the banjo and creating graphic art. With a little coaching, she, and others with ADHD, could leverage their strengths, develop techniques for overcoming their weaknesses, and ultimately, play the game of life much more successfully.

To learn more about ADHD Coaching, contact us .
Astrid Richardson is a life and wellness coach trained by the International Coaching Federation. Her experience includes working as a dietary consultant from Jenny Craig where she worked with clients who had various levels of weight loss issues. Astrid's beliefs are that coaching can give clients a safe and loving space to explore, seek clarity, find awareness, and grow. To learn more about Astrid's coaching practice visit our website.

By Astrid Richardson

Wellness - Diet

How many times have you attempted to lose weight? Has it been once, twice, three times or more? Each time, you start with a great deal of enthusiasm and feel that, this time, you’ll achieve your goal.  Often, you meet the challenge and lose the weight, only to later gain it back. The loss and gain can be disappointing and leave you wondering, “How did I let this happen again?” You might even feel defeated.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the last weight loss achievement and see how you accomplished your goal. Did you have a plan? Probably. You, most likely, looked at the many things in life that could get in your way and found solutions that would help you stay on track. That might’ve been using a calendar to schedule your exercise, having a meal plan and making sure that you planned ahead so you wouldn’t be caught unprepared. You may have even had a friend to keep you accountable and with whom, you could celebrate your wins along the way. These are all great ways to achieve weight loss. If you’ve achieved your weight loss goals, I sincerely congratulate you. That’s wonderful! So, now what? Will you continue to use the structures that supported you or will you go back to old habits that don’t align with your newly achieved goal?

Whether you’ve lost weight and want to keep it off or you’re starting anew, ask yourself, “What is my motivation?” Is it to feel better, look better, or both? Whatever it is, make sure that it is strong and you can remember it. A strong motivation, having a plan, and support structures are powerful tools for achieving and sustaining your goal. When life happens and setbacks occur, these tools will help get you back on track and restore balance. Don’t forget to be good to yourself and give yourself the love and compassion you need, especially during a setback. And remember - “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” - Henry Ford

By Jo Ann Bayus

I cannot help but notice the barrage of anti-aging advertisements on television, in magazines, on billboards, and just about everywhere else I look. Although I am not bothered by the idea of getting older, I am bothered by the fact that the vast majority of these advertisements focus on outer appearance, and very few on inner health and wellness. As a result, I wanted to share some valuable advice for staying young and living a vibrant life…take care of your brain!
According to an article published in The Economist, Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, believes that “appropriate changes to a person’s diet can enhance his cognitive abilities, protect his brain from damage and counteract the effects of aging.” Similarly, a study that was conducted at Harvard University showed less-rapid cognitive decline in women who consumed more blueberries and strawberries. Both studies suggest consuming antioxidants for a healthy brain.
Antioxidants can easily be added to the diet by consuming a variety of fresh fruit (especially berries), vegetables, legumes, whole grains, turmeric, oregano and green tea. Even dark chocolate contains protective antioxidant but be sure to choose wisely. Look for high quality, organic dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa and limit yourself to an ounce or two a few days a week.
It’s wonderful to want to look one’s best at any age. But the bottom line is that poor inner health leads to a poor quality of life. And personally, I would take aging healthfully and happily over wrinkle-free any day.

Health, true health, is so much more than simply what we eat or how much we exercise. True health includes the whole person: emotional, mental, physical, social, spiritual…every aspect of your being impacts true health.

In my work as a behavioral consultant and health/ lifestyle coach, I’m constantly reminded of the power that relationships have on our health and happiness. Dr. Dean Ornish, Physician and Clinical Professor of Medicine, stated the following when writing about the importance of relationships:

“I am not aware of any other factor in medicine — not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery — that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidents of illness, and premature death from all causes.”
With the impact of relationships on overall health in mind, I want you to focus on the power of five to one — a simple approach that can have a tremendous impact on the quality and happiness level of our relationships.

Dr. John Gottman, Psychologist and Relationship Expert, states happy couples have five positive interactions for every negative interaction. What’s more, when the ratio approaches one to one, married couples are likely to get divorced.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re interested in developing and maintaining healthy, happy relationships then emphasizing the positive can help.  

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply look for the things that you appreciate about the people in your life and tell them how you feel. Try to smile a little more, offer sincere compliments, and find things to laugh about together.

Of course, you will appreciate different things from different relationships, and will go about showing your positivity in different ways — but the basic rule applies; be sure your positive interactions outweigh your negative interactions at least five to one.

Try applying the rule of five to one to yourself as well by focusing on the positive when it comes to your self-talk. If you catch yourself thinking negative thought about yourself, replace it with a positive thought and move on.

Give it a try and you might just end up a little happier and healthier as a result.

The Positive Perspective: Dr. Gottman's Magic Ratio!

From the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in April of 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said, about the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, that the “moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” King, who attempted suicide in his youth and who scholars now believe suffered from deep depressions and possibly bipolar, applied that philosophy to a variety of causes.

I believe that the same way the moral arc of the universe has been bending toward justice, the arc of treatment bends toward recovery.

Advances in medicine, epidemiology, crisis care, somatic treatments like Electroconvulsive Therapy and other advances over the past fifty years have created opportunities for people like me to survive the pain of terrible madness, the frustration of obliterated executive function and the persecution of voices. In another time, so many of us who are here and are functioning would have succeed to the illness, either by death by suicide, accident, permanent institutionalization or isolation.

 One of the unspoken elements of this change has been the advent of peer and family recovery as a crucial element to healing. One prominent psychiatrist I know once said that if he had a choice to only send a bipolar patient to a therapist or a peer support group, he would choose the knowledge and support from peers. He believed, as I did when I ran the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Northern Virginia’s groups, that the great comfort that comes from support is only rivaled by the knowledge that allows those of us in the groups to avoid having to relevant the wheel each time we face a new challenge with symptoms, medications and stressors. People ask when what got me on my feet after my first major episodes and my answer is always unflinching: Family support was very important, but I could not have done it without medication and that support group that meets at Centreville Methodist Church.

For it was in my peers that I learned that I was, in fact, not alone. It was in my peers that I learned that it was okay for the medications to not work out for years while you were searching for the right path. For it was there, I learned to separate the good and bad in me, from the good and bad in my disease. It was there that I learned I could be of value to others.

My thoughts on this topic were kindled a week ago after meeting with one of my associates at Goose Creek Consulting and the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Northern Virginia, Jeanne Comeau. Jeanne is a mother of someone with mental illness and you can see her passion for helping those suffering from mental illness, and family members who care a similarly heavy burden.

I was impressed to hear all the things that NAMI-Northern Virginia is doing to help. It is running a long list of groups for peers, young adults, family members and friends, community stakeholders and the general public. This work enhances, and in some cases surpasses, what treatment providers are trying to do.

One of the reasons Goose Creek Coaching has put an emphasis on groups as of late is that we believe that peer support can be as, if not more, beneficial than some of our individual work. But we also believe that peer-to-peer groups, without a clinician, have an equal, if not better, impact. That’s why we have opened our doors to meetings, from a peer-led meditation group to a Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Northern Virginia Bipolar Loved Ones group. We have also invited NAMI, a borderline personality disorder group and other groups to use our space free-of-charge. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (CHADD) offers similar peer and family groups for people dealing with ADD/ADHD across Northern Virginia.

Any responsible business acts with its bottom line in mind, but we have a moral obligation to serve our mission, which is to help people, regardless of their ability to pay, to find the help that they need. That is part of the reason we are so flexible with our fee structure when clients have difficulties paying.

While you may not be in the position to do what we are doing, you might be able to encourage a friend or a family who is struggling with the effects of mental illness in themselves or others, to seek help. If that’s not an option, you can always support these groups by volunteering, participating in a fundraiser walk or donating.

What ever you can do, it will help.

I know. From professional and personal experience, and the hundred hands clasped beside me who have walked together through this year on this now not so lonely road to recovery.